Airedale Breed

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The Standard is the physical “blueprint” of the breed. It describes the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed otherwise known as type. Some characteristics, such as size, coat quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function for the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye color, but taken together they set this breed apart from all others. The Standard describes an ideal representative of the breed. No individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the breeder to strive towards.

The AKC has placed a condensed version of the Standard for the Airedale Terrier online.

For many novice dog fanciers these standards are intimidating, abstract, and subjective. One good way to begin to understand this standard is to read books, such as “The New Airedale Terrier”, and study the pictures and drawings while reading the standard. Also, take a copy of the standard to dog shows and watch the breed. Talk to as many breeders as possible. Over time an “eye” for the breed will develop if you continue to question and compare the animal in front of you against the standard. The Airedale Terrier Club of America has a nice pamphlet, complete with sketches that is helpful in understanding the breed standard.

Airedale personality, as described in “Your Airedale”, is “cocky and brash, as he nonchalantly goes about his business with a swashbuckling air.” He will protect his family to death if need be. He is very patient with children, only moving away when he tires of their rough and boisterous play. He is very strong willed, while being gentle and affectionate with his family. The Airedale’s curiosity is such that he will investigate any situation until he is satisfied. He is definitely a thinker. Airedales are people-oriented dog, where his owner is, there he wants to be.

Choosing to own a Airedale is a wonderful, rewarding decision, but remember that a sense of humor is an absolutely necessary qualification for an Airedale owner.

Airedale History

The Valley of the Aire in West Riding, Yorkshire, was the birthplace of the Airedale Terrier. The exact date is unknown but indications are that the breed began to be developed in the middle of the nineteenth century. They were bred as an answer to the average factory workers’ desire to hunt otter. To hunt this game properly required a pack of Otterhounds and a “Terrier” or two.

The Airedale is believed to be the “Old English Black-and-Tan Terrier,” the ”Broken-coated Working Terrier” and the “Rough-coated Black-and-Tan Terrier” outcrossed to the Otter Hound among others. All accounts of the “creation” point to a possible cross with a Border Collie or some other sheepdog. Some accounts also point to the Bull Terrier, while others insist that this outcross never took place.

These dogs were known for their gritty ability to take on any adversary and give a good account of themselves. They were broken to guns and trained to retrieve. They were fierce competitors in the water-rat matches. Albert Payson Terhune sums up the Airedale concisely: “Among the mine-pits of the Aire, the various groups of miners each sought to develop a dog which could outfight and out hunt and OUTTHINK the other miner’s dog. Out of the experiments emerged the modern Airedale. He is swift, formidable, graceful, big of brain, an ideal chum, and guard. There is almost nothing he cannot be taught if his trainer has the slightest gift of teaching. Every inch of him is in use. No flabby byproducts. A PERFECT MACHINE–a machine with a BRAIN, PLUS.” The first Airedale known to come to America was Bruce brought over by C. H. Mason. Bruce was the sire of Bess, who was the dam of Airedale Jerry, the root of the family tree.

Airedales have successfully mastered everything from big-game hunting, coon-hunting, water-retrieving, working as messenger dogs during WWI, working as police dogs, mastering obedience work to being a loyal pet. Not every Airedale excels in every area but over time many have performed a variety of duties very well.

Today Airedales are still used as hunting dogs, watchdogs and even obedience and agility dogs, but they are, first and foremost, faithful, loyal and entertaining companions.